When it comes to something as important as saving the world, what you usually expect to see is the 100th Avenger movie followed by some dramatic trailer, or the Saints Row gang come storming through the door. If I was to tell you that one of the latest games to arrive would have you saving the world in a ten-hour adventure as nothing more than a ball, you’d probably shrug it off as being impossible, right? But of course, you obviously wouldn’t have seen Technosphere Reload, the sci-fi adventure from the minds at Adaptive Game that tasks you with just that and has created a rather engaging experience in the process.
To kick things off, Technosphere Reload starts players with a sudden sense of urgency. The year is 2590 AD, and up on an asteroid currently in the orbit of Earth, the Atlas Corporation are digging up crystals. Due to a system failure within the asteroid system however, the orbit correction was disabled and now we have an emergency on our hands. Within 10 hours the Earth could see a huge disaster resulting from these events. Only the Technosphere is able to reload the asteroid system and fix the orbit correction. The next 10 hours are you chance to save the earth from total disaster!
That’s the opening punchline and that’s what we’re dealing with. From this point you are thrust into controlling the Technosphere itself, a large mechanical sphere complete with circular holes across its surface. As the Technosphere, it’s down to you to make the most of the 10 hour timer that’s on show, ticking away as you manoeuvre through a series of puzzles and mazes in order to restore the orbit and try to save the Earth from presumed destruction.
Now, the thing that really stands out from the moment players first take over the Technosphere are the incredibly stunning visuals. From the shine and the glow of the lights within the Technosphere itself, to the reflective surfaces, the attention to detail and the level design itself, there has been nothing that has gone unnoticed by Adaptive Game when it comes to creating an impeccably believable sci-fi setting. This was something that continued throughout the game too, especially within the lighting effects as particles reflected perfectly and shadows reacted as you would expect them to in regards both the player and object movement.
In terms of the gameplay itself, Technosphere Reload does a fantastic job of keeping the player engaged. The puzzles see players roll through numerous mazes, traps and all manner of challenges; many of which require buttons to be pushed to progress and platforms to be traversed. It does a good job of really keep you thinking, with the slightest lapse of concentration enough to see you falling into an unlikely hazard and wasting precious time. Early puzzles start the player off lightly, but by the end you’re guaranteed a sweat, and with time limits then introduced at certain times on some puzzles, the game does well at making the whole environment feel connected and vitally important. What makes things a little easier is the option to rotate the camera at 90-degree angles to help see what’s around you, or to help move through a particularly difficult obstacle.
Another reason the gameplay works so well is thanks to the fantastic feel of the controls. Whilst moving a ball shouldn’t be all too hard to master when it comes to video game physics, getting the weight and feel of movement right as you navigate each puzzle and it’s angled platforms is something that feels perfected. Each jump of the ball has been implemented wonderfully as you really get the sense of gravity working against you.
Of course, looking great and playing smooth as caramel is the key to a perfect start, but to be a satisfying and memorable puzzler, you need more than just looks. Fortunately, the engagement here doesn’t just come from the visuals or layout of each puzzle, but also the progressive difficulty that slowly builds as players make it towards the end of the game. A factor of this is the ‘lives’ system, and with a limited number of spheres that count down with each death, players can find too many repeated mistakes booting them back to the start of the level. Now I don’t think there will be too many that find themselves getting a sweat on at the doomsday timer come the end of the game as sadly the time lost during a level restart is refunded to the overall time limit, but it does do a good job of ensuring you feel that importance and tension of the occasion.
The other key mechanic of Technosphere Reload comes down to the Technosphere’s energy levels. That’s right, whilst it’s always easier to get across those slim railings whilst going at speed, the faster you move the more energy you use, and with energy pickups dotted around each level you’ll need to ensure you stay topped up to get the best time.
Finally, we have the audio and usually this is an area I tend to forget, simply because unless it’s really good or really bad, I don’t really pay attention to it. Technosphere Reload is a game that sets the tone brilliantly with the visuals though, and then brings it home with the audio design. There is nothing that’s going to blow you away, but it’s the detail and the timely cues of the thud as your Technosphere lands on a platform that really ties the whole experience together as complete package, and that can’t be praised enough.
Overall and whilst the goal is the same from start to finish, it does what it intends to do well. There’s no doubt it’s puzzling, provides a challenge, and engages the player, all whilst looking phenomenal throughout. It has colour, character and brings a sense of urgency that is rarely seen in even most blockbuster titles. Sure, it would have been a lot more interesting to see each forced restart from ‘lives’ lost cost time, or any time lost through death being non-refundable, but on the whole, Technosphere Reload does a fantastic job of being a memorable platform experience.